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Thaddeus Wolfe: Unsurfacing at Volume Gallery

Thaddeus Wolfe's Assemblage vases looked mysterious enough when he debuted them in 2011, first for sale with Matter and then with a special edition for Chicago's Volume Gallery — we'd never seen glass before that paired the shape and surface texture of rocks and minerals with amazing fades of opaque color. When we asked him to describe his process to us, it turned out that it was relatively easy to grasp, if not execute: He blew the vessels into faceted plaster-and-silicon molds. His newest take on the series — the Unsurfacing collection for Volume, on view as of tonight — looks even more complicated, layered with fragmented geometric patterns and contrasting colors.
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Celine SS14 Shoes & Accessories

Okay, so maybe we're not the first place you go for news about the ready-to-wear collections, but when we saw the new Spring/Summer line from Céline, with its brash painterly strokes and squiggles, we were knocked out. Then we saw the shoes — and had to share. There's something almost '90s-architect about them — like if we'd heard the one with the tubular gold heel was designed by Zaha Hadid, we might not have batted an eye — but they somehow go beyond that into something incredibly cool. We've included the season's amazing cuffs for your perusal as well, in crumpled painted copper or Mondrian-inspired enameled brass, but for a look at the full collection, get on over to the Céline website. You won't be sorry.
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The Best of the 2012 Milan Furniture Fair, Part II

We'd scarcely pressed "Post" on last week's Milan Furniture Fair recap when another round of photos arrived in our inbox, this one featuring the jaw-droppingly amazing Sedimentation vases pictured above, which could be our favorite thing to emerge from the weeklong festivities. The fact that they're the work of a student — the Swedish-born Royal College of Art up-and-comer Hilda Hellström — makes them even more exciting, especially when the fair can sometimes seem dominated by glitzy launches from the megabrands. "I am OBSESSED with these," wrote The Future Perfect's Dave Alhadeff. "The forms feel well beyond student work and the 'on-trend' marbling technique." We couldn't agree more, and Hellström's urns were just one of the products we fell in love with by proxy; as the weekend wore on, we received picks from Mary Wallis, a designer at Lindsey Adelman's studio, and the American designer Jonah Takagi to round out our second wrap-up from the year's biggest furniture event. Mirrored crates, portable terrariums and zinc-coated screens are now tops on our wish lists. What's on yours?
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Myself: “I am constantly gathering inspiration from my personal universe and experiences,” says Abbade. Case in point: her website, where Abbade hosts a series of self-portraits done in Photoshop, needlepoint, pencil, and the like, as well as a styling library where she often appears half-naked in neon pink bikini bottoms along with one other key piece. “At one point, I decided to catalog everything I own,” she says. “As a stylist you get a lot for free, but also when you have a specific style, people are always giving you thimgs. I was going to shoot one piece at a time, but I started with the stuff on my floor and never made to the drawers or the closet!”

Renata Abbade, designer and stylist

A lot of designers call themselves multidisciplinary, but they’ve got nothing on Renata Abbade. A former stylist for magazines like Purple and fashion brands like VPL, the São Paulo–born, Los Angeles–based designer has spent the better part of the last decade involved in a wonderfully weird array of activities: creating a cult jewelry line in ceramics, dancing on stage at Lollapalooza with the Brazilian band CSS, starring in a series of self-produced dance and workout videos (including one for CSS, in which she wore masks depicting each of the band members’ faces), designing terrariums, landscapes, rugs, tapestries, and fabrics, DJing down in Brazil, and performing with a semi-fictitious band called High Waisted. She refers to herself both as a freestylist and a fashion artist, but in truth, what she’s often creating amounts to something more like performance art, where she is the subject, channeling personal interests and experiences into new and different media. “To me, it feels like I’m only doing one thing, even if I’m involved in a lot of different things,” says Abbade. “Like with the terrariums, it’s basically styling with plants instead of clothes, and land instead of people.”
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For Isetan, Wilson also created a line of knitted piggy banks whose mouths squeeze open to accommodate incoming cash.

Donna Wilson, textile designer

It's always seemed to me that being Donna Wilson is indeed as much fun as it looks. From her Aladdin’s cave of a studio in London’s Bethnal Green to her colorful, vintage fashion sense, Wilson actually does live and breathe her work. On the rainy November afternoon I visited her studio, which is filled floor-to-ceiling with bits and bobs of yarn, I asked what she might do if she had any spare time. She pondered: “I think I’d like to travel to Scandinavia and probably get a dog.” Which led into a discussion about the possibilities for a range of Scandinavian-style dog sweaters, as everything usually comes back to the knitting. Of course, though Wilson made her name creating woven poufs and rugs inspired by the Fair Isle sweaters of her youth in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, it’s not actually just about the knitting anymore but also about bone china, linens, melamine trays, totes, piggy banks, ceramic Staffordshire dogs, biscuits, packaging, furniture and more. At this point, there isn’t much that Wilson hasn’t turned her hand to.
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Things Organized Neatly: It’s also likely why I love flea markets, where you can often find random spots of order among the chaos, like these colorful yarn spindles I photographed last year at Brimfield.

Jill Singer, Co-Editor

In honor of Sight Unseen's first anniversary, we, the editors, decided to turn the lens on ourselves, revealing what inspires us as writers about and champions of design and art. If you're an especially devoted reader of Sight Unseen, you might have noticed that Monica — who spent her childhood putting bugs under a kiddie microscope and was at the head of her high-school calculus class — often tends towards subjects inspired by geometry and science, while Jill — whose love for color and pattern likely began with an uncommonly large novelty earring collection — favors maximalist, throw-every-color-at-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks types. We were interested to see how those formative experiences would play out in a documention of our own reference points. Here's a closer look at eight of Jill's editor's picks.
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Mexico: “With the fruit on the table, this is like a color still life,” says van Eijk. “I’m intrigued by them. The Settings project I did for the Zuiderzee museum was really about setting and still lives. And this was just standing on the street somewhere, not designed at all, like a coincidence. Maybe no one thought about it looking nice. If you really designed it or styled it, it would never look as special as this. Then you almost start thinking, is it good to be a designer? Isn’t it nicer if there are no designers in the world? It’s interesting if you can keep this kind of intuitive thinking in your work, and try not to direct everything, but to let coincidence play a role. It’s really hard to achieve; you have to put a lot of effort into making something effortless.”

Kiki and Joost’s World Travels

When Kiki van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk were invited this year to each create a series based on the collections at the Zuiderzee Museum, an art and history center in a former port region in the north of Holland, they got to do what they’re known for doing best: looking backwards to research archetypal objects from the past — in this case old Dutch ironing boards, apothecary pots, and shipping trunks — then reinterpreting them using new shapes and luxe materials. What most people don’t realize, though, is that the couple are equally obsessed with looking outwards, having backpacked their way through far-flung countries together each year since they graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven, photographing intriguing uses of color, pattern, texture, and technique along the way.
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Patternity’s Shift table, another collaboration with Grace’s father, launched at last month’s Clerkenwell Design Week. “People tend to misunderstand marquetry, and they think the panels are painted,” says Winteringham. “But actually they’re dyed beforehand. You can pick them out from a catalog that’s kind of like a Pantone swatchbook, with different color and grain options. The underside of the Shift table is made from sycamore and the panels are dyed cedar.”

Patternity, furniture and textile designers

For Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham, pattern is everywhere — in the flaking paint of street bollards and the crisscrossing beams of scaffolding, in the fashion photography of Mel Bles and the banded stiletto heels of Parisian shoemaker Walter Steiger. Together, Murray and Winteringham run Patternity, a studio and online resource for pattern imagery where each photo is curated, sourced, or taken by the designers themselves. Spend some time on the site, and their obsessions become clear: One week it’s rocks and strata; another it’s the vivid African textiles that line the stalls of the Ridley Road street market that runs daily in Dalston, the East London neighborhood both women call home.
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Carmen D'Apollonio (left) and Guya Marini (right), in a portrait taken by their friend Walter Pfeiffer, the Swiss photographer. The designers often collaborate on projects with other creative talents, including their lookbooks, which are art-directed by a different person each season. Pfeiffer did one, as did Urs Fischer.

Ikou Tschüss, Fashion Designers

It takes the Zürich-based fashion duo Ikou Tschüss a full week to hand-knit the blankets from their winter collection — each ringed with dangling sleeves to appear as though it’s hugging the bed — and maybe a day to knit one of their bulky sweater dresses. Even silk shifts are hand-printed and edged with rows of crochet, the pair's signature trope. Add to all that labor the fact that Carmen D'Apollonio spends the majority of her time in New York, where she’s been the right-hand-woman to Swiss artist Urs Fischer for the past eight years, and it’s a good thing she and partner Guya Marini have help. “Most of our knitting is done by Swiss grandmothers now,” says Marini.
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